New York restaurants A to Z
When Scott Hart and Bruce Horowytz moved to Hell’s Kitchen 15 years ago, they couldn’t find a fun bar nearby, so they opened Xth Ave Lounge. Later, they thought the neighborhood lacked fine dining, so they built 44 & X. You can guess what happened this year when they wanted a local café: It’s called 44. Like 44 proper, the space is bright and modern. You can grab a seat at the bar and down a breakfast pastry or a chocolate-and-caramel tart with malted-milk-ball ice cream, or fill up on a lunch of a roasted garlic-glazed chicken breast with Swiss chard and home fries. When warmer weather arrives, you can dine in a tranquil Japanese garden.
Peripatetic chef Ryan Skeen rises from the ashes yet again to head this 40-seat restaurant, decorated with handcrafted tiles on the walls and zinc-covered tables. Look out for carnivorous dishes like pig's-head-and-lobster terrine, as well as the five-seat chef's counter. Renowned sommelier Jean-Luc Le Du is behind the wine list.
Smørrebrød—the open-faced Danish sandwiches—arrive on the New York sub scene with this modernist cafe. House-made rye is topped with ingredients like beef tartare or chicken salad and baked root vegetables. Drinkers can throw back a shot of homemade aquavit to go with the Northern European fare. The minimalist 45-seat spot channels Scandinavian cool with white oak floors and chairs by Danish designer Arne Jacobsen.
When he sends out authentic Greek food at Molyvos, executive chef Jim Botsacos is only telling half the story: his father’s. Now, as chef-partner at Abboccato (“touch of sweetness”), he pays tribute to his Italian mother. Each dish is associated with a region of Italy, such as Umbrian-style quail and octopus with Sicilian oregano. To make his carbonara taste like the real thing, Botsacos uses richer, more flavorful duck eggs. His vaniglia e cioccolato, meanwhile, combines two classic dishes: vanilla-scented veal cheeks and wild boar stewed in red wine, spices and chocolate. It’s dinner and dessert rolled into one.
You’re sitting at a cramped communal table—the half-eaten beef-slider taco before you long soggy and uncleared—as you stare wistfully at the restaurant where you wish you were eating. Where you are is ABC Cocina, the seasonal tapas-cum-tacos spot from Jean-Georges Vongerichten and executive chef Dan Kluger; where you’d rather be is ABC Kitchen, the duo’s farm-to-table restaurant that shares a glass wall. The ABCs—both located inside ABC Carpet & Home—are the latest additions to a Jean-Georges restaurant empire as varied in cuisine as it is in execution. It includes faultless high-end French at Vongerichten’s celebrated flagship, Jean Georges; Japanese without staying power at the now-closed soba temple Matsugen; and New American that can be whimsical and deft at Perry St., but underwhelming at the sleek and snobby Mercer Kitchen. With ABC Cocina, Vongerichten has meandered out of his wheelhouse to Latin America and Spain, straying unnervingly far from the standard of excellent seasonal cooking that he and Kluger established next door. This is his Spice Market of Latin cuisine, a boisterous fun house of culture designed to please the Meatpacking crowd in a different locale. The clamorous room’s splashes of colored light, striking chandeliers and dangling woven chains smack of a G-rated bordello. Unless you snag a reservation or a table on grimy 19th Street, be prepared to wait among those drinking at and around the bar, a young crowd of tanned legs and short white dresses à
A juice and smoothie extension to Jean-Georges Vongerichten's market-driven restaurant ABC Kitchen has opened, with a similar focus on organic, seasonal produce, much of it purchased from the nearby Union Square Greenmarket. The philosophy couldn't be clearer than in a drink called the Local (pear, apple, carrot, beet, lemon, ginger and local bee pollen); other concoctions are a little more flexible in their sourcing, such as a smoothie made with hemp protein, Thai coconut meat, pineapple, agave, lime, cilantro, kale and avocado. Baked goods from the restaurant's pastry chef, Cindy Bearman, include muffins, scones and biscotti.
While plenty of New York restaurants have lately made the environment a priority—sourcing their ingredients locally and crafting dining rooms from salvaged materials—none have done so with quite as much visual and gastronomic panache as chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s new ABC Kitchen. The chef’s “hippie” restaurant, as he’s taken to calling it—a joint venture with his home furnishings landlord—is a stunner, as artfully merchandised as the shop that surrounds it. Everything, including the antique armoires, reclaimed-wood tables, porcelain plates and chandeliers entwined with flowering vines is gathered from area artisans. Though the restaurant’s sustainable ethos is outlined on the back of the menu like an Al Gore polemic, the cooking, based on the most gorgeous ingredients from up and down the East Coast, delivers one message above all: Food that’s good for the planet needn’t be any less opulent, flavorful or stunning to look at. It’s haute green cuisine. One can only imagine Vongerichten and his chef de cuisine, Dan Kluger, gleefully conjuring dishes from his seasonal bounty, some of it laid out like a Greenmarket still life on a massive table at the edge of the dining room. Perhaps there were beautiful veal scraps to play with from a small farm upstate, and so miniature meatballs were fashioned with sour cream, lemon zest, pecorino and herbs; delicate orbs tossed with house-made bow-tie pasta as fragile as silk handkerchiefs, crispy kasha and copious crme frache—kasha v
On a recent Tuesday night, the bar at Abe & Arthur’s was manic with cougars on the prowl and graying lotharios. We fought our way to the hostess stand, where a lithe trio would decide our seating fate. Would we be relegated upstairs to Siberia—far from the action on the second-floor balcony? Or escorted downstairs to the most deafening dining room in New York? These are the prevailing concerns at Abe & Arthur’s, a Meatpacking meat market whose aging scenesters may have frequented its red-hot precursor, Lotus—another restaurant where the party came first and the food was an afterthought. Although there’s a marquee chef in the kitchen—Franklin Becker (Brasserie)—the guy could serve Steak-umms with Velveeta and the place would still be packed. If you’re a spectator, Abe & Arthur’s can be as entertaining as a Dynasty rerun. There are more middle-aged men with baseball caps than at a Beastie Boys concert, and more plastic surgery than at an Anna Nicole Smith memorial. There are also legions of waiters and floor managers on patrol, ensuring no guest goes untended to. This nightly circus is a well-oiled machine. The owners, grandsons of Abe and Arthur themselves, are clubland pros who also run Tenjune. It’s no surprise, then, that the food is as extraneous as the soundtrack, barely audible over the conversational roar. Becker offers bar snacks as well worn as a good pickup line. His bland meatballs arrive in a tart tomato rag with more character than the orbs it bathes. His tepid